midterm18

A "Vote Here" sign outside of the Maxwell Elementary Voting location. Voters came out early in the morning to vote in the midterm elections on Tuesday, Nov. 6, at the Maxwell Elementary Voting location in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

As you may know, Kentucky’s gubernatorial election is on Tuesday, November 5th. If you are reading this, you have most likely already decided to vote. You probably understand that the candidate chosen to be Kentucky’s governor for the next four years will have a significant impact on the city of Lexington and the University of Kentucky.

So we won’t waste our time preaching to the choir. Instead, we would like to show you some ways you can encourage your less politically-inclined peers to vote.

Unfortunately, the window to register to vote closed on October 7th, so if you or your peers haven’t registered yet, then you will be unable to participate in this November’s election. If this is the case, we encourage you to visit Vote.org  to register to be eligible to vote in the 2020 presidential election. You can also request an absentee ballot, check your registration and see who is on your ballot on this website.

College students often cite not knowing how to vote, being too busy or not knowing much about the candidates as reasons for not voting. That’s where you come in.

Figuring out how to vote can seem overwhelming, especially for students who just turned 18. The Kentucky State Board of Elections website has many resources to make the process easier.

If your peers don’t know where to vote, direct them to this website, which allows them to find their polling place by inputting their name and last four digits of their social security.

If they are from another state, they can register to vote absentee in the Kentucky gubernatorial election. According to the Kentucky Board of Elections website, a request for an absentee ballot can be made by phone, email, mail or in person from a county clerk seven days prior to the election. This means that, Tuesday, October 29, was the last day to request an absentee ballot.

If you requested an absentee ballot, you must mail it back to the County Clerk so that they receive it by 6 p.m. on election day.

While the deadline has passed for this election, in the future, students not from Fayette County can simply change their address to their Lexington residence in order to vote here without the hassle of ordering an absentee ballot. Updating your address may be more convenient than traveling home to vote and could have a greater impact due to Lexington’s history as a potential swing county in the governor’s race.

We realize UK students are busy. If your friend cites a lack of adequate time to vote due to classes or work, this can be a difficult issue to overcome. The polls are only open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Election Day, but if these times don’t fit with your schedule, we still believe voting is significant enough to request an excused absence or time off of work.

In fact, according to UK Human Resources, the university is required to grant employees time off with pay to vote if they cannot find time outside of their working hours. Also, many UK professors will allow students to miss class to fulfill their civic duty.

Finally, some of your peers may simply lack the motivation or political education to vote. If you don’t know anything about the candidates running for governor, attorney general or any of the other positions, you may feel like your opinion doesn’t matter. However, spending as little as 15 minutes researching the candidates will allow you to understand their main policy points and stances. We encourage Kernel readers to utilize bipartisan sources of information in their research, so that they can vote based on their actual preferences, instead of the opinions of their peers or family members.

Also, don’t forget to research the candidates running for the offices besides governor. According to a NPR article, locally elected officials have a great deal of impact on your daily life.

The only way that more people voting is of value is if they know who they’re voting for and why. This gives our democracy a better chance of representing actual public interest.

The last turnout for the Kentucky governor’s race in 2015 was only 30.5 percent of registered voters. We encourage you to engage your peers who are registered to vote in discussion to increase this percentage.

By contributing to a higher, more politically-educated voter turnout, UK students can—and should—raise the bar for the rest of Kentucky in the upcoming election.